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Sep 01, 2010


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Dennis Sanders

Michael, thanks for sharing this. The Disciples have something like this as well, and I've long wondered if this would really lift people out of poverty. I guess my question is, why people tend to support this when we see that nations where poverty is being lessened like India or Brazil, aren't doing it by us buying fair trade coffee, but by that nation's investment in its people?

Michael W. Kruse

My observation is that the hierarchy in our Mainline denominations is deeply influenced by Marxian categories of thinking and economic analysis (i.e. labor theory of value, conflict between oppressor and oppressed, equal material outcomes for all) that they confuse with biblical ethics. Our Mainline denoms do invest in people in important helpful ways but when it comes to societal structural analysis they frequently opt unhelpful economic models.



What about looking earlier than Marx. While watching the John Adams miniseries on dvd a few months back, it struck me that Jefferson/Hamilton conflict is one that we still continue to navigate in this country. Not only in our churches and society but perhaps even in in each individual. Hamilton and his merchants and factories may win our minds but it is the Jeffersonian yeoman farmer that makes our heart sing.

The Fair Trade movement has a Jeffersonian appeal. Supporting a yeoman coffee farmer working his own land. Does the Hamilton role fit Claar?

By the way I have started reading Heavenly Merchandize. Only about 40 pages into it. However the puritan preachers circa 1600 make Jim Wallis look like a member of the Federalist Society or the Club for Growth.

Michael W. Kruse

Interesting points ceemac. Of course, Marx was not manufacturing his ideas alone. He was drawing on the religious and ethical values afloat in his day as well. Its going to have some similarities with other strains of ethical thought. Still, the Mainline world has a particular angle on things that I think borrows heavily from neo-Marxism, likely adopted from interaction with others in the academy in humanities and social sciences. This is particularly true of the liberationist camps.

I agree that the Fair Trade movement likely ties to a Jeffersonian nostalgia. I don't think I would draw strong parallels to Hamilton in Claar. Maybe if Victor sees this he can address this.

I've got Heavenly Merchanize too but I haven't started it yet. My great-grandmother Kruse's family came to Missouri from Plymouth, so I've always a had in interest in the Puritans and the Pilgrims. Plymouth started out a commune but quickly went to share ownership and private enterprise to survive. They made the same fatal flaw that some many religious communities do ... trying to apply principles of face-to-face community to the broader commercial society. I'll be curious to read how the author breaks it down.


"First, countries grow rich as their human capital improves."

And that's directly related to the form of their government and the virtue of their leaders.

Somalia is at the bottom of the heap - no government, so gang leaders become warlords. The average inhabitant (almost said "citizen") thinks that's great - crime is down (unless you count what the warlords are dong).

For the guy at the bottom, there's no way out. "Foreign aid" is pointless. It goes to the top, and at each level down, more gets siphoned off until there's little that reaches the place it's needed.

Other countries in Africa - Zimbabwe comes to mind - have governments that are corrupt or despotic or both.

Besides Kiva, there's the Grameen Foundation

Martin Rizzi

First, countries grow rich as their human capital improves. Human capital is the term economists use to describe the value that a country’s people possess through their accumulated experience and education. For example, there is little doubt that India’s recent growth explosion is due in large part to the education – including the knowledge of the English language – of its people. Second, countries grow rich as they invest in and accumulate physical capital: the machines, tools, infrastructure, and other equipment that make the product of each hour of physical labor more valuable.
That which both human capital and physical capital share is that they both transform the result of an hour of a person’s hard work into something of greater value. As the value of an hour of labor rises, employers gladly pay higher hourly rates, knowing that their bottom lines will be the better for it.
If we want to be effective agents in aiding the poor, we should focus our efforts in directions lending enhanced value of an hour of labor … (57)

IMO this quote well represents Hamiltonian economic thinking and particularly in its later expression in Carey's Harmony of Interest.

Michael W. Kruse

I guess I would need to hear more. It is not clear to me how this quote is particularly Hamiltonian.

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